Mental health professionals have categorized divorce as one of the most stressful events a person can experience in their life. Of course, some divorces are more combative, drawn out, expensive and life changing than others. However, the way in which someone experiences their divorce can be impacted by other traumas they’ve had in their lives.
Some people have claimed that the trauma of their divorce left them with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The use of that term has expanded since the days when it was almost exclusively applied to soldiers who had been in battle. However, according to the latest edition of the of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), PTSD follows “exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.” Unless abuse and violence were part of the marriage, PTSD wouldn’t apply.
Another term might, however. Researchers refer to it as “post-dissolution PTSS” (post-traumatic stress symptoms). The symptoms are not unlike those of PTSD. They include:
- Extreme blame of oneself of others
- Extremely negative thoughts about oneself and/or the world
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of interest in activities
- Feelings of isolation
- Aggression or irritability
- Risky or destructive behavior
As with other types of trauma, people experiencing PTSS may find themselves replaying things they’ve done or that were done to them over and over in their head. They may find it difficult to think about moving forward in to their post-divorce life.
If a person was already suffering from PTSD as the result of other trauma, any divorce – even a relatively amicable one – could exacerbate the condition.
Why you need to seek help
If you’re dealing with the symptoms described here, you’re not in a good mindset to make the crucial decisions that need to be made during divorce. It’s wise to seek the help of a mental health professional, if you aren’t seeing one already.
No reputable family law attorney wants to see their client suffering emotionally or to do anything that would cause more suffering. If you need help finding a therapist who can help you work through your feelings around the end of your marriage, your attorney can likely provide some recommendations.